Wenshuo Zhang

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


Research Interests

I am a fourth year Ph.D. Student in Political Science (my interests straddle the line between comparative political behavior and political communications) at the University of Illinois. My dissertation will examine collective action from a complex systems perspective, in particular, how reciprocal social interactions among (and between) peers and their opinion leaders overcome or bypass the free ridership problem.


My undergraduate major was computer science and my MA was in Area Studies (half cultural anthropology/cultural studies and the other half political science, both focused on East Asia). I fancied studying film restoration when I was younger, but decided that I enjoyed a lifespan not preternaturally cut short by corrosive chemicals. Of course, everything then went digital…

I used C++ and Java extensively as an undergrad, but now focus primarily on MATLAB and R in my daily work.


I am looking for ways to better integrate complexity into the study of political behavior. Hopefully a more intensive study (other than my nonlinear dynamics class at Illinois and the bits and bobs I've picked up) will help me to better apply its principles to my field.


Random fact 1: I love to watch ballet (and am an amateur dance critic of the lowest order, example here: [1]). I also enjoy cooking and eating. I've learned not to combine the three as none of these tasks are achieved to any satisfaction when I do.

Random fact 2: I've watched Singin' in the Rain 1000+ times.

Random fact 3: No one (not even my parents) call me by my legal name, so feel free to follow the herd and call me Nini.